After a restful few days off to enjoy the holidays with friends and family the Utica City FC team is recharged and ready to run rival Baltimore come Sunday. Ending 2018 with a win will keep Utica in position as the Eastern Division leaders. The teams have split the season series at one a piece with both teams remaining undefeated on home turf.

“It’s going to be an exciting game, but a tough game, especially coming off an extended break,” said Slavisa Ubiparipovic. “Baltimore is a little banged up so I think we need to take advantage and attack and press them as much as we can.”

Utica City FC may be in their inaugural season but many of the players are familiar foes of the Baltimore team.

“This team knows Baltimore very well,” said Head Coach Ryan Hall. “Every game over the last five or six years have been very close. We know they are the team to beat. Until someone takes the realm from them, they are the king of the hill, but we are the only team that’s given them a run over the last couple of years.

It’s been a close rivalry, physical games, a lot of fun for both the players, coaches, and fans. It’s something that sports are made of. I’m glad that both Danny Kelly and myself continue this tradition and there will be a lot of fireworks come Sunday.”

Coach Hall and his team have spent the week preparing for the physical style of play that can be expected on Sunday.

“Both teams are fast-paced, very technical, and very physical. Especially this game Sunday will be a game of mistakes – who can limit their mistakes and capitalize on their opponents.  If we give them any room or make mistakes in the back they will 100% capitalize and vice-versa. It will come down to specialty plays, our free kicks, our power plays, and on the reverse side, the defensive free kicks and defensive power plays and during the run of play, taking care of the ball and not making mistakes in the defensive third.”

Veteran defender Vittorio Petrera has seen the Blast in both the playoffs and the regular season.

“Every game is a tough game against Baltimore. You saw the back and forth in the first two games, so it’s going to be a battle. We’ve trained hard this week and the guys are ready to go,” said Petrera. “We’re used to such an emotional rivalry so we always get pretty excited and look forward to playing them.”

Make sure you are in attendance for the final home game of 2018 as the boys look to stay undefeated on home turf and enter 2019 as the MASL Eastern Division leaders. Tickets are still available by visiting www.empirestatetix.com.